What is the Area Sacra?
The Area Sacra, full name Area Sacra di Largo di Torre Argentina, is a square in Rome and the site of the ruins of four Republican temples, one of which is thought to be the spot where Julius Caesar was brutally murdered in 44 BC by a group of conspirators.
Julius Caesar’s Rise & Fall
Julius Caesar was both the most famous and most controversial figure of his time. He was a populist politician, military conqueror, talented writer and intellectual, all of which have contributed to his lasting posthumous fame. The accounts of his military campaigns have been used as inspiration by political leaders throughout the last two thousand years, and his name is the origin of modern titles such as Kaiser and Tsar. His fame has been carried through the ages thanks to the impact he had on the Roman Republic and his infamously violent and premature death.
Caesar’s rise to power marks the transition from the Roman Republic to Empire. The Republic was governed by two consuls that acted as a check and balance to each other’s ambition, a system that was established when the monarchy was overthrown. As a result, the Romans were sensitive to one man rule and any indication of a leader assuming too much power was violently opposed.
In the 40s BC, Caesar became consul four times and was even nominated by the senate as dictator on multiple occasions, a position usually appointed to deal with specific military or civil duties. The role was intended to be short term, however Caesar was granted the title of dictator perpetuo, or ‘dictator in perpetuity’, whilst in office, much to the disgust of the people, who thought his intention was to re-establish a monarchy.
On the 15th March 44 BC, or the Ides, as the date was known in the Roman world, a group of conspirators carried out arguably the most famous assassination in history. Caesar arrived here at the Theatre of Pompey, a cultural and political centre of the city, to be greeted by a petition to recall his exiled brother. At this point, a group of conspirators surrounded the dictator pretending to offer their support. Caesar waved them away, but one of them grabbed his toga and pulled it from his shoulders, whilst another thrust a concealed dagger at his neck.
‘You villain, what are you doing?!’ Caesar exclaimed. Within moments, the group of conspirators began to stab the dictator from all sides. As he lay dying, he looked over to one of his killers, Brutus, a friend and confidant Caesar considered almost as a son to him, and said in Greek: ‘You too, child?’ His dying words were famously altered by Shakespeare in his play Julius Caesar to: ‘Et tu, Brute?’ – ‘And you Brutus?’
Where was Julius Caesar Murdered, Exactly?
It’s reckoned that just behind the circular temple, of which six columns still survive, was the spot where Caesar was stabbed 23 times. His brutal death a reminder to Roman politicians and people alike of the distrust towards single person rule.
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